Back in July, Best Buy Co. Inc. launched a major advertising campaign built around its bold decision to use Twitter as a scalable customer service tool. Their so-called Twelpforce currently has about 14,000 followers, and hundreds of Best Buy employees are answering approximately 75 to 100 consumer electronics questions per day.
QUESTION: Is that what Twitter was built for?
Simple answer - NO. Twitter wasn't built to be a customer service tool, but the minds at Best Buy looked at Twitter's platform and its RAW application and said.... Hmmmm, I wonder what else we could do with it. Now they may not be the first to explore this possibility, but they're the first one that comes to mind.
Is this news to you? No. Did you give it a second thought or did it even make you stop and think when you heard or read about it? Well, aside from saying "hey that's a pretty cool idea", probably not. Putting these rhetorical questions aside for a moment, the thing that you really need to ask yourself is - Why not? Why didn't something like Best Buy's approach to Twitter make me stop and think? Is it because something like that is for big corporations? Maybe it's because you don't have the bandwidth or manpower to even consider using Twitter like that.
UGH! - FORGET ABOUT WHAT BEST BUY IS DOING WITH TWITTER - IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!
I'm not suggesting that you turn Twitter into a customer service tool for your company and copy what they did, what I'm suggesting is that you get your head out of the sand, strip Twitter down to its bare bones like you just had a team of developers build a customized application for you, and THINK about what you could actually do with it!
Honestly, have you ever given any serious thought, I mean really thought about what Twitter is, what it does, or enables you to do; or did you just fall in-line when you got to the party and played along like everyone else? If so, that's okay. You're just like the other 30 million users out there.
Off the top of my head, I attempted to make a short list of just some of the things that Twitter and/or its platform was designed to do:
- You can create a self-defining marketable name: @YourName, @YourCompany, @YourProduct, @YourSpecialty @YourNiche that is searchable by tens-of-millions of people. You can even create multiple accounts.
- You have the ability to create a billboard of sorts as a background or "landing page" that introduces you to everyone that you encounter, to help reinforce your personal or corporate Brand.
- You can introduce yourself, your interests and strengths in a 160 character bio.
- You can provide a link to your company website, blog or latest promotion and drive traffic.
- You can search for specific people to connect with and add them to your network.
- You can send direct messages that people will actually receive in their inbox. Messages that won't be considered spam.
- You get instantly notified when someone has elected to follow you, and you can elect to block them if you so choose in the event that they're just not the audience that you were looking for.
- You can send messages and stay in touch with your network from your phone (SMS).
- You have an instant searchable database of millions at your disposal from day one to choose from.
- And oh yeah - it's free!
In addition to all of this, there are hundreds of spinoff websites and applications that have built their model around Twitter. From sites that allow you to search Twitter bios, to applications that allow you to schedule the time of your posts in advance and tweet for you. Please don't get me started on automation.
However, with all of this laid at your feet, chances are you created an account that includes your bio, a link to your website, your photo and maybe even a custom background. You follow, they follow you, you each say "Thanks for the follow" and then you never hear from each other again. Then it's off to the races to see who can reach 100,000 followers without any rhyme or reason or game plan in place.
Today I challenge you to strip Twitter of its name, just put it aside for a moment, and forget about what everyone else is using it for. Think of how these features, like Best Buy, could be tailored to suit your business model or personal needs. Remember, Twitter wasn't designed or intended to be used as a customer service tool, but Best Buy saw it differently.
Come on, isn't it time that you stopped taking things at face value?